Friday, December 2, 2011

Dodgers sign Chris Capuano to 2-year deal, world is NOT ending

The Dodgers signed left-handed pitcher Chris Capuano today to a 2-year, $10 million deal, according to multiple reports.

The deal also includes a mutual option for 2014, reports the L.A. Times' Dylan Hernandez.

Contrary to popular belief, the world has not ended because of this signing. While it likely spells the end of Hiroki Kuroda's Dodger career, things could be worse: this money could have been thrown at a worse version of Capuano -- Jeff Francis.

Capuano is coming off a decent season with the Mets, going 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 3.17 K/BB ratio. Those are the good numbers.

The bad numbers include a 4.55 ERA, 9.6 H/9, 1.3 HR/9 and an 87 ERA+. Also included in the bad are his numbers away from pitcher-friendly Citi Field:

Home: 4-5, 3.82 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 3.84 K/BB
Away: 7-7, 5.42 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 2.57 K/BB

Capuano is similar to a guy the Dodgers already have: Ted Lilly. But it might surprise one to learn Capuano averaged more innings per start (5.97 to 5.83) and struck out more batters per nine innings (8.1 to 7.4) than Lilly did in 2011.

As a complement to Kuroda, Capuano would have been just fine. This signing implies Kuroda is either open to pitching for another U.S. team, going back to Japan or retiring. My money is on Japan.

However, if Kuroda really loves pitching in Los Angeles and is willing to take a massively deferred contract, he could still return. But that's highly unlikely.

Capuano's fastball is his main pitch, as it averages 87.9 MPH. He threw it 57.9 percent of the time in 2011 -- a career high. He also uses a solid changeup (78.3 MPH) and slider (79.6 MPH). He also has a cutter he doesn't use much.

He's a soft-tosser like Lilly, but this signing isn't all bad for the Dodgers.

Capuano has appeared at Dodger Stadium five times in his career:

23 IP, 29 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 1 HR, 4 BB, 20 K

Not great, but not bad, either.

Something I am pleased with is his improved control. In 2005, his best season, he walked 91 batters (3.7 BB/9 and 1.93 K/BB). Since then, his control numbers look a lot better (2.5 BB/9, 3.02 K/BB).

And for those complaining about his home run numbers compared with Kuroda, he gave up 0.2 more HR/9 than Hiroki. So, it's not all bad.

Now, for the same money, I would rather the Dodgers signed Aaron Harang, who probably won't get much more than $5 million a season on the open market. A 2-year, guaranteed deal for a guy who missed the entire 2008 season and spent the entire 2009 season in the minors is a bit of a head-scratcher, though.

The Twins reported showed interest in him, but $10 million for two years seems like a slight overpay. It's reminiscent of the Casey Blake signing a few years ago.

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. notes Capuano filled the final open spot on the team's 40-man roster. To make anymore additions to the roster, players will have to be waived, outrighted or released.

The Dodgers, a team most knew would have to be frugal this off-season, didn't exactly spend its money that well.

Capuano - $5 million (not confirmed)
Juan Rivera - $4 million
Mark Ellis - $2.5 million
Matt Treanor - $850,000
Adam Kennedy - $800,000
Total: $13.15 million*
*- Does not include Matt Kemp's $10 million salary, which was awesome

Four roster spots were filled, but was the money allocated as well as it could be? Rivera's role could have been filled by someone who cost a lot less or the Dodgers could just trust Jerry Sands and his ability. Ellis' role could have been filled by Justin Sellers, Adam Kennedy or Ivan De Jesus. Treanor's spot could have been filled by Tim Federowicz, but I can at least understand wanting Federowicz to play full-time in Triple-A to start the season.

Are the Dodgers a better team right now than they were on the last day of the 2011 season? Not really.

While I wasn't totally against the Rivera and Ellis signings, they look pretty bad now, considering the Dodgers probably don't have enough money to bring back Kuroda.

The rotation is setting up as such:

Clayton Kershaw
Chad Billingsley
Dana Eveland/Nathan Eovaldi

There are a lot of question marks there. There is potential for Billingsley to be the only right-handed starter the Dodgers have (to start the season at least). That's almost unheard of. Still, I'd rather see Eovaldi get a chance as the No. 5 starter.

Who knows? Maybe the Dodgers will see if they can bring in Harang for a cheaper deal (with deferred money of course, because that's now the Dodger way).

But don't hold your breath.

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